Athletes condemn plans to erase sport's world records

All athletics world records set before 2005 are under threat of being erased under controversial plans to fight doping.

Women's world marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe, men's triple jump world record holder Jonathan Edwards, and indoor 60m hurdles world record holder Colin Jackson have all condemned a move that would see their historic achievements wiped out.

Which British athletes stand to lose their records?

  • What have the athletes said?

Jackson, who has held the world record for the men's indoor 60m hurdles since 1994, said the proposal had "tarnished" his career, adding he "couldn't believe" the news.

"This has tarnished the whole of my career by perhaps suggesting that by eradicating my record that I was possibly doping like some of the other athletes who have been accused," Jackson said.

Adding "they might as well take my medals as well", and that it was a "ridiculous situation to be in".

He continued: "They're trying to eradicate everyone's previous careers in athletics just because they can't get their doping things in order...

"They should concentrate on going forward and make sure what they're doing is absolutely accurate

"To really tarnish all of our careers leaves a really bad taste in my mouth."

Radcliffe, who ran her marathon best of two hours 15 minutes 25 seconds in London in 2003, attacked the plan as "cowardly" and "heavy handed" in a detailed Twitter posting on Monday night.

"Although we are moving forward, I don't believe we are yet at the point where we have a testing procedure capable of catching every cheat out there, so why reset at this point?" she wrote.

Paula Radcliffe's time in 2003 has never been bettered by the women's elite. Credit: PA

"Do we really believe a record set in 2015 is totally clean and one in 1995 not? I am hurt and do feel this damages my reputation and dignity.

"It is a heavy-handed way to wipe out some really suspicious records in a cowardly way by simply sweeping all aside instead of having the guts to take the legal plunge and wipe any record that would be found in a court of law to have been illegally assisted."

Triple jumper Edwards, who set his world record of 18.29 metres in 1995, echoed Radcliffe's claim that the IAAF lacked the "courage" to investigate individual record holders suspected of illegally enhanced performances.

Jonathan Edwards set his world record triple jump at the World Championships in Gothenburg in 1995. Credit: PA

"I wish they had the courage of their convictions," he told the Guardian. "If there are records that are unbelievable and suspicious, go for those."

He added: "I thought my record would go some day, just not to a bunch of sports administrators. It seems incredibly wrong-headed and cowardly."

Olympics legend Daley Thompson voiced his support for Radcliffe and Edwards.

  • Which British records are at stake?

Steve Cram's European one mile run of 3 minutes and 46.32 seconds (1985) and European 2,000m run of 4 minutes and 51.39 seconds (1985).

Colin Jackson's indoor 60m hurdles world record of 7.30 secs (1994).

Jonathan Edwards' triple jump world record of 18.29m (1995).

GB men's 4x100m relay team European record of 37.73 seconds (1999).

Paula Radcliffe's women's marathon world record of 2 hours 15 minutes and 25 seconds (2003).

  • Why would erasing the records affect doping?

European Athletics said overhauling the record lists will eliminate any doping doubts surrounding outstanding performances.

The IAAF has only stored blood and urine samples since 2005 and said all records before then would fail to meet its new three-point criteria for new standards:

European Athletics said its ruling council had accepted a project team's recommendations to establish the new criteria in elite competition.

The IAAF said the records set prior to 2005 would remain on an "all-time" list but not recognised as records officially.

  • How have athletics chiefs responded to the criticism?

IAAF president Lord Coe endorsed the move as a "step in the right direction" as the sport fights for "credibility" over doping testing.

"There will be athletes, current record holders, who will feel that the history we are recalibrating will take something away from them, but I think this is a step in the right direction and if organised and structured properly we have a good chance of winning back credibility in this area."

Sebastian Coe said athletics needed to win back credibility. Credit: PA

European Athletics president Svein Arne Hansen said: "Performance records that show the limits of human capabilities are one of the great strengths of our sport, but they are meaningless if people don't really believe them.

"What we are proposing is revolutionary, not just because most world and European records will have to be replaced, but because we want to change the concept of a record and raise the standards for recognition to a point where everyone can be confident that everything is fair and above board."